NEA Spotlight: Fort Wayne Civic Theatre in Fort Wayne, IN

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NEA Spotlight: Fort Wayne Civic Theatre in Fort Wayne, IN

This month, the National Endowment for the Arts announced over $84 million for 1,144 new awards to arts and culture organizations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and each of the five U.S. territories.

Among the 13 artistic disciplines recognized by the NEA this year were seventeen regional and community musical theatre organizations across the United States.

This month, BroadwayWorld will profile these organizations to let them express, in their own words, what the award means to their organization and how the funding will not only enable them to plan and execute new productions and community programs, but help recover from financial losses sustained in the Covid-19 pandemic.

Today's profile is Fort Wayne Civic Theatre in Fort Wayne, Indiana!


What was your application process like?

The NEA grant process is different than most as it is a government grant. First, you need to be a 501c3 non-profit organization, have a DUNS #, and once you get set up in their two systems with an account, then you can begin the grant writing work. We applied under the Artswork project grant which provided certain guidelines and themes that they would consider to fund. One the themes was Suffragettes and with that in mind we brainstormed on how best to celebrate Suffragettes and the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment - women's right to vote.

Once you are set up to apply there are many documents you must upload to their system. We had to report on the nature and history of our work, our proposed concept with a budget and matching funds, staff work experience, and more. Once we hit the submit button, all is sent and then all communication goes through our account. If there are items that need to be addressed, followed up on, and eventually their acknowledgement letter and agreement, we must reply through this account.

Why do you feel the NEA is so important, particularly at this moment in history?

To have our project approved by the NEA is great national recognition. It gives focus to the strength of the Arts in our community. Now, especially during this time of the pandemic, the funding is needed more now than ever. We had applied way before the pandemic ever hit and we did not know how vital these funds would be today. NEA funding is providing us the opportunity to unite our community in celebration of the anniversary of the 19th amendment, of diversity, and of our nation.

How do you intend to use this grant in your theatrical programming?

We are utilizing the funds to help produce the musical 1776 in September 2020 with a multicultural all-female cast. Using this musical that is about the drafting and signing of the Declaration of Independence and using the words of our founding fathers we will also explore women's suffrage and the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. The 19th amendment guaranteed American women the right to vote and we will be hosting public discussions with community leaders about the work of the suffragettes and individual rights.

How will this grant benefit your community? What non-theatrical initiatives (education, community outreach, etc.) will you fund using the award?

In addition to the panel discussions focused on the suffrage movement, we are also partnering with the League of Women Voters Fort Wayne in a non-partisan voter registration drive leading up to the national presidential election in 2020."

What was the effect of Covid-19 on your operations and how will this award enable you to recover? How can our government better aid arts organizations that have been affected by the pandemic?

We have made the decision to move the first two productions of the 2020-2021 season, Legally Blonde & 1776, to an outdoor space that is much larger than the theatre we typically perform. In presenting these events at an outdoor venue we will be able to provide adequate social distancing by blocking out seats, and utilizing only about 19.3% of the total capacity, using only 498 seats. The outdoor venue will offer the added benefit of fresh air, as opposed to recirculated air conditioning. We may adjust seating capacity for 1776 based on the current health guidelines in place for September 2020.

We also realize that in the 2020-2021 season we will face numerous financial challenges and will likely not end the year "in the black" as we have many years. The financial support given by the NEA for this particular grant will help offset just a small portion of the loss we anticipate. But the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre has cash reserves and the community and staff resources that we believe will help us bounce back sooner rather than later.


The Fort Wayne Civic Theatre is one of the longest standing downtown entertainment destinations and a regional leader in live theatre experiences through artistic excellence and innovation.

Fort Wayne Civic Theatre seeks to entertain, educate, inspire, and enrich its community through exceptional live theatre experiences.

a??In pursuit of that vision and mission the organization has shown a great commitment to striving for excellence, nurturing the creative soul, stewarding resources, pursuing innovation, promoting diversity, educating the community, and changing lives through the power of live theatre.

Learn more here.


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From This Author Alexa Criscitiello